Triadica sebifera (L.) Small
A small deciduous tree to 6 m. Stem often crooked and gnarled. Twigs slender. Petioles 2-6 cm long, with 2 sessile disc-shaped glands at the apex. Leaf-blades broadly rhombic-ovate, 2-7.5 x 1.5-7 cm, abruptly acutely acuminate, broadly cuneate to rounded.subtruncate at the base, entire, lateral nerves 7-12 pairs, glaucous beneath. Stipules 1-2 mm long, obtuse. Racemes terminal, 4-10 cm long, dense-flowered; ♂ bracts triangular,1.5 mm long, 10-15-flowered, basal glands discoid; bracteoles smaller; ♀ bracts narrowly lanceolate, 2 mm long, 1-flowered; basal glands as in the ♂; bracteoles 1.5 mm long. Male flowers: pedicels 2 mm. long; calys cupular, 1 mm. across, unequally 4-lobed, yellow; stamens 2, filaments short, anthers 1 mm. diam., slightly exserted. Female flowers: pedicels 2-3 mm long, extending to 5-8 mm in fruit; calyx 3-lobed, the lobes ± ovate, 1-1.5 mm long, acute; ovary 1.5 mm diam., tapering into the stylar column; styles 5-7 mm long, stigmas recoiled. Fruit trilobate, 9 x 11 mm, apiculate, shallowly 6-ridged, smooth, black; upon dehiscence, the valves split away leaving the seeds attached to the columella which itself splits into 3. Seeds ovoid, 7 x 6 x 5 mm, smooth, with a white waxy exotesta surrounding a hard black endotesta.
Fl. Per.: May-Oct.; Fr. Per.: June-Oct.
Holotype: China, Osbeck in Hb. Lin. No. 1140.9 (LINN!).
Distribution: China, Taiwan, Japan. Cultivated and escaping from cultivation in many tropical countries. Prefers riverside habitats; up to 4000'/1220 m.
The ‘Chinese Tallow Tree’, The wax around the seeds is used for making candles in China. Cultivated in Pakistan for its pale yellow to deep red autumn tints.